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Dinah Birch

  • Making Peace: The Reconstruction of Gender in Inter-war Britain by Susan Kingsley Kent
    Princeton, 182 pp, £18.95, March 1994, ISBN 0 691 03140 1

Do women want equality? To the militant suffragettes campaigning before August 1914, the answer was self-evident. They wanted equality badly, and were ready to do battle for it. The aggressive action which backed their polemical crusade was designed to demonstrate possession of virtues previously considered to be essentially masculine: the capacity for public action and rational argument, physical courage, a ruthless drive for justice. But the outbreak of what Christabel Pankhurst called ‘the other war’ changed all that. The long nightmare of the trenches meant that neither men nor women could see themselves in the same way. Images of gender fragmented into new and contradictory patterns that shadowed British feminism for decades after the Armistice.

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